Finding things, Our recycled home, Thrifty

Vintage Toys and a mother’s second hand strategy

15 April, 2012

As soon as Ramona and I enter a charity shop or a jumble sale I zoom straight to the kids section and pick out the nicest (by nicest I mean oldest/ most wooden/ cheapest) toy or coolest kids book and place it into her hands with an excited exclamation of “LOOK- this is just the ticket!!”  I then move straight away from the kids section, out of danger territory. It may seem a bit mean, or a bit against my “child-as-unique-independant-person” philosophy but I simply CAN’T take home another giant, ugly, fluffy toy circa 1998- and this IS the thing she will choose if left to her own devices.

It is something we have to face, as parents. Kids toys ain’t often pretty – or perhaps often too pretty; pink, beribboned, cuddly. They can take up a lot of space and ruin the aesthetics of a room. I’m sure many of you don’t care, and I wish I didn’t.

But I do. I just dooooo.

Fortunately, the world of second hand provides a mountain of eyeball pleasing kids options. I am always on the look out for retro looking, vintage play things and have found some gorgeous numbers that Ramona loves too.

We have one area where the ugly (by ugly, I really only mean new. Why are new things so damn ugly?) things live, in an ancient deep drawer hidden to the side of the sofa.  And I have just recently launched an Exhibition of Old Children’s Things, on quite a prominent shelf, that all three of us enjoy looking at.

Apart from the Ukeleles, which were gifts,  all of these are second hand. I picked the abacus and clock up from a charity shop in Blackheath a couple of weeks ago for One Squid and found these little playmobil bike riders on that Legendary Farham visit. Eeek, I just love ’em.

I always keep my eyes peeled for little music instruments so that when Ramona’s chums come over we can all have a bash and a sing. We have an immense Salvation Army heritage- all my 3 generations on both sides, my parents, Aunties and Uncles are all ministers in the Barmy Army and Ramona does them proud as she tinkers with this “timbrel” (tambourine) I got for 50p last week at a Bootie.

She is singing “Wind the bobbin up” -which mostly just involves her saying “Pull, Pull” over and over and over. It is her favourite song, she bursts out in it approximately six times an hour but it also sounds a lot like her sound for “Poo” which results is us spending lots of time each day on unnecessary but tuneful potty visits.

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago at my local car boot in East Dulwich I found this pretty ancient skipping rope with a couple of scary mushroom guys for handles.

PS little while ago I posted about some other vintage toys and included some secondhand toy pillaging tips – have a broose. (That’s Scottish for browse.)

PPS Have you found any thing retro for your kids recently?

PPPS I am linking up with the magical Magpie Monday over on Liz’s blog – if you get a chance do go and have a squizz at all their wonderous second hand goodies.

PPPPS Have you noticed my new header? Can you tell me why it is blurry, the blithering, bladdy, blurry &a*t%r&!

PPPPPS If you enjoy reading this old blogaglog of mine, have you had a moment to put me up for a MAD blog award? There are loads of catergories but you could especially vote for me in the “Most Over-Vintaged Up Photo Editing ever” or “Most amount of Made Up Words In a Post In The World”.  No, seriously, I reckon Home/ Thrift/ Craft catergories are possible themes of mine? Muchos Gracias.

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  • Jennifer 15 April, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I love your shelf of old toys! I never see things like that in my local shop, but I probably don’t look hard enough, I’m usually just trying to drop things off and not get distracted! I usually end up with a new jigsaw, my son loves jigsaws.

    We have some lovely old toys which were mine when I was little, lovely Fisher Price stuff that doesn’t have batteries and annoying noises (we have plenty of the modern stuff too though). I think that the older toys are much more creative in their design, we have a wonderful turntable type baby toy with a different activity on each side, a mirror, sliding buttons and so on, with a squeaker on the top. It’s fab and is played with just as much as the noisy stuff!

    I can’t wait to introduce my son to playmobil, I think that he’s very nearly old enough. We have loads in my parents’ loft but unfortunately none of it was mine, it all belonged to one of my siblings.

    Love the pictures of Ramona with the tambourine!

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 8:28 am

      You SO have to raid that loft!
      Are all the pieces normally in the jigsaws? Nothing worse than doing a jigsaw where you suspect there’s bits missing!

  • lizzysfairytale 15 April, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Lovin the new header. not too sure why its blurry…but the colour mix is the shizz nizzle! PS. I will vote for you now

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Thanks Lizzle ma dizzle heeheee xx

  • hunsabunsa 16 April, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Well I currently own NOTHING retro with being “on the road” though we had limited stuff before we hit the said road anyways. Lack of local 2nd goods where we were. Now we are close to a million 2nd hand options, chief of which are all around the streets where we live, but we just need to be careful not to stock up as who knows when we will be on the move again and have too much stuff!

    The heading looks clear as day from this computer so maybe it just depends? Xx

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Ah yes, such a bummer not being able to hoard stuff! Sometimes it’s nice having limits though- I bet you could find some cool tiny things lik music boxes 😀

  • Liz Burton 16 April, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Fabuloso post as ever me dear.

    My monster is drawn to Maccy D’s tatty happy meal toys. Lord knows why and I often have to ‘lose’ them in the scarf bin en route to the till. x

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      Oh no way? That is almost worst than giant fluffy bears.

      Don’t you love it when charity shops try to flog the Happy meal toys? Ramona has tried to nab a few of those before.

      • Alexandra Bridger (@medicatedfollow) 16 April, 2012 at 10:20 pm

        The charity shops round here have boxes and boxes of those happy meal toys for sale!!

        • lulastic 17 April, 2012 at 10:53 am

          I have actually bought some, unintentionally. The cheek!

  • minibreakmummy 16 April, 2012 at 10:02 am

    You have such great taste in toys – those retro playmobil figures are particularly sweet 🙂

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Thank you 🙂
      They are cute aren’t they- I love their retro outfits hehehehe

      • minibreakmummy 16 April, 2012 at 12:27 pm

        I remember playmobil figures having those outfits when I was a girl 🙂

  • jane 16 April, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I know what you mean about kids heading strait for tatty old cuddly toys my DD “used” to do that but ive trained her well and she now heads to the book section instead 😉
    Love all the old toys you’ve nabbed some great bargains!

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      Oh, I need some training tips! Maybe I could give her subliminal messaging while she sleeps “retrrooooo toooyyyyssss noooottt plllassstiiiccc ttaaattttt” 😀


  • KatGotTheCream (@KatGotTheCream) 16 April, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I love your retro toy shelf too. I’ve tried to steer my kids towards wooden and retro but my five year old Charlie seems to keep the Taiwanese factories in business because he loves stuff made out of plastic ie dinosaurs.

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      Ha ha oh dear. Dino’s are cool though. You could make a dinosaur featured shelf work? x

  • midcenturystuff 16 April, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Your vintage toy display is too cute. I think I’ll do something similar. I don’t find many at thrift stores, but they do pop up at yard sales occasionally.
    I had to make a hard and fast rule: no stuffed animals. Not even if the kids used their own money.

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 2:07 pm

      Ooh that is hardcore! I think I need the same rule, already have several and she’s only 17 months!

  • Karen Jones 16 April, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    arrgh! just left you a great long comment then this Flippin (for want of a better word) WordPress wouldn’t let me post it until I signed into wordpress (which I don’t WANT to ) . Phew ! rant over, deep breath.

    Love, love , love your blog and photographs and philosophy on toys (but not enough to vote for you in the MADS) Well, sorry same categories ; ) xxx

    Hate stuffed animals too, hate modern toys, hate mess.

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Ramona’S expression xx

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Ha ha ha oh love, love, love your comment. So funny.

      I have had problems leaving comments lately too, it does my head in, arrgghh. Sorry that happened to you 🙁

  • aqeela 16 April, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    I linked up to Magpie Mondays too… i love this post! Im just the same, always saying ‘Naaaah’ when my boy picks up ugly new monster trucks or tacky figures of random monstery type men, i always scan the shelves and 10p boxes and find the oldest most asthetically pleasing things i can but fortunately he loves everything i pick too. I bought him a fantastic vintage noddy play set yesterday at the car boot, along with other toys (do we need more??? Really???)
    Aqeela xx

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      I LOVE your noddy set so much! Well done!

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Also , no they don’t need more. The last thing we want to pass on is the need for lots of stuff. (Unless it’s vintage) (ha, I kid, I kid) (kind of)

  • thriftshopperforpeace 16 April, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    i volunteer at a thrift shop in the toy department. i’m always amazed at how much stuff i can put on shelves each week, how much of it is poorly made, and how there is seemingly no end to stuffed animals (do they breed during the night?) i love your vintage toys; very cool!

    • lulastic 16 April, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Wow really? I feel your opinion is very weighty then, thank you!

      I would be terrible as a volunteer in a thrift store. I tried it a few times but it almost bankrupted me :s

  • Alexandra Bridger (@medicatedfollow) 16 April, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Wow, you and I have very similar feelings about toys.. as my son gets older, I’m trying to resolve myself to the fact that I won’t be able to control what he plays with forever and I have to let him choose the toys he wants to play with and things he wants to do.. but I certainly prefer the older toys, wooden toys etc…. they are more aesthetically pleasing and in my experience, better made! Like you, I have displays of older toys around. I always choose wooden if I can, though I have been criticised by people for doing so (i.e. it’s unrealistic for today’s world and he won’t be used to the “real world” if he’s only exposed to wooden/old toys) Thing is, that’s rubbish… he plays Angry Birds on my husband’s phone for goodness sake and is very adept at using our ipad without assistance!! I really hate garish noisy modern plastic crap….

    *hides for fear of expressing a strong opinion*

    You might like to read this blog post I did on the subject back in November last year..

    • lulastic 17 April, 2012 at 10:45 am

      He he yes I like it!

      I hate that it sounds a bit snobby not liking tat but it is mostly just masses of new stuff that I struggle with.

  • Madison 17 April, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    LOL! I know where you’re coming from. For my Wee Man it’s got to be big, plastic and noisy. I’ve put a ban on anything big and plasticy now and he’s now progressed onto the kids books, which I am more inclined to buy. Who am I kidding?! I buy loads of kids books. Our local charity shop has a permanent BOGOF on theirs and I visit it every day. So you can imagine the mountains of books we have. Today I got 4 practically brand new books for a whopping £1.50. It would be rude not to. Right?

    Madison xxx

    ps Love your blog and I’m now your newest follower.

    • lulastic 17 April, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      A permanent BOGOF? No way! Well jell! Thanks for leaving a comment , I’ve checked out your blog and love it!

  • Make do mum 17 April, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    The number of times I’ve had to prise some awful toy out of K’s hands at a boot sale (i wrote a blog post about the most horrific thing that I ended up buying for her, have a look if you dare! ). I like your mushroom skipping rope! p.s. your header looks fine to me, not blurry at all.

    • lulastic 17 April, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      Thank you! BAHAHA hilarious post on your blog. Love the term chazzing! 🙂
      But actually I think bunny is quite sweet tee hee

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